The Prayers of the Sinner

I had dinner with some friends from church last night, and one of the more learned friends made a statement that at first I objected to, but the more I think about it, the more validity it seems to have. My question:

Does God hear the prayers of the unrepentant sinner?

In my own walk to faith in Christ, God answered a specific prayer in a miraculous way so that I could not misinterpret it. As I had not yet given my life to Christ, I assumed God answered it as He saw the path it would lead me.

My friend points out that “no one get through the Father except through me” that Jesus says is part of the New Convenant, so even if I could find an OT example of God answering a prayer, it would count. God cannot abide sin and sin hides the face of God from us, so God doesn’t hear our prayer until we ask Jesus into our lives.

And what about my answered prayer? My friend contends that God answered it because *others* prayed for me, and God knew exactly what I needed. So he answered the prayer not because He heard me, but because in His omniscience, He knew what I needed.

What do you think? And what scripture backs up your opinion?

5 thoughts on “The Prayers of the Sinner”

  1. Jesus isn’t a secret decoder ring or an x-ray shield or watch-dog secretary. If God is all-knowing and all-hearing, He hears everything. He chooses to act (or not act) according to His will, which in your case happened to be in tune with your own, as expressed in your prayers. God’s will happed to be the same as your will. (Hey, it happens.) Your friend is misguided if he thinks God doesn’t hear the prayers of non-believers. Besides the phrase quoted above is shaky — above it’s written “no one get [sic] to the Father except through Me,” when I think it’s more like “no one can come to the Father except through Me. Earlier in John, Jesus is quoted as saying “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” When you were praying, even in your disbelief (or unbelief), you were coming to Jesus. He wasn’t about to cast you away.
    Besides, the idea that God turns His face away from sin is silly. I can’t suddenly be invisible to God just because I’m an unforgiven sinner. (I think I’ll just hide from God, go under His radar for awhile. Whew!) If God hid His face from sin, how would he have known a sacrifice was necessary? How could He know that Jesus was needed here?
    Your learned friend must think the gentle Son of Man is an uptight legalist — a pharisee, I suppose. Hope this helps — j


  2. “Nick”, beautiful response. I’ve been pondeing this question for 2 days, and I’ve decided you’re right for the reasons you’ve listed. God of course would have the power to limit himself, but I don’t know why He would do that this way. And Acts 10 has an angel appearing to a centurian and tells him his prayers are answered.

    I don’t think my friend was trying to be legalistic, just trying to understand God. I enjoyed the conversation and it made me think about relationships with God.


  3. I’ve been thinking about how to answer this, but I think I like the way Nick put it. Sin may cloud our vision and hide the face of God from us, but it doesn’t hide us from the sight of God.


  4. It’s comforting to think that God wants the best for all of us. I was reading the book of Job and saw that Satan has access to God’s court. If Satan can talk to God, then perhaps there’s hope for a sinner like me.


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